Mandela, Obama, and the Arc of the Moral Universe
Upon hearing the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, Obama described Mandela as “a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
Such nice words from a man who took history in his own hands five years ago to apparently continue bending the arc of the moral universe into the dirt.
Obama says stuff, because that’s what he’s good at. He talks about reforming this, and closing that, but when it comes to action, Obama is a paper tiger, which is being generous.
Take the president’s clemency record:
A ProPublica analysis of Justice Department statistics last November found that Obama had granted pardons at a lower rate than Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush had at the same point in their administrations.
Obama has now granted a total of 39 pardons and denied 1,333.
Here’s a more recent article published before Thanksgiving—that time of year our president pardons Turkeys:
President Obama on Wednesday will pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. Which makes this a good time to ask why a liberal constitutional lawyer who bemoans the bloated prison system and proclaims that “life is all about second chances” is–on the matter of clemency–one of the stingiest presidents in U.S. history?
Put another way: If a turkey deserves a second chance, why not Weldon Angelos?
Angelos was sentenced in 2004 to 55 years’ imprisonment for possessing a firearm in connection with selling small amounts of marijuana. He didn’t brandish or use a weapon, nor did he hurt or threaten to injure anybody. And yet the father of young children and an aspiring music producer was given an effective life sentence because of a draconian federal law requiring mandatory minimum sentences.
Even the judge on his case, Paul G. Cassell, found the sentence “cruel and irrational.” While urging Obama to reduce Angelos’s punishment, the Republican-appointed judge wrote, “While I must impose the unjust sentence, our system of separated powers provides a means of redress.”
Don’t worry pro-Obama liberals, Obama says he’s going to reform that shit. I’m sure he really wants to. Let’s just hope those darn Republicans don’t obstruct him.
Another policy issue where Obama has plunged the arc of the moral universe into hell is GITMO, where prisoners on hunger strikes are still getting force-fed:
Officials at Guantanamo Bay have implemented revised protocols for hunger strikes and force-feeding, according to a Justice Department letter obtained by Al Jazeera. The controversial military detention center keeps scores of detainees imprisoned, often without charge.
The move comes as officials at the base disclosed this week that they would no longer release new figures to journalists on a hunger strike that is currently underway. As of Monday, the last day Guantanamo officials released fresh numbers, 15 prisoners were protesting, up by two from the previous week. All of the hunger strikers were reportedly being force-fed.
According to the Justice Department letter, officials at the base revised their protocols for dealing with the hunger strike and force-feeding methods on Nov. 14 to “better focus on the adverse health effects of clinically significant weight loss on each individual detainee.”
But mystery surrounds exactly what those changes are. Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, the prison spokesman, declined to disclose details about what exactly changed in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), or to answer any questions about why the changes were made. Filostrat said to do so would interfere with “operational security.”
I’m sure if Nelson Mandela was engaged in a struggle against US imperialism, using the tactics he employed against apartheid, Obama would have labeled him a terrorist and blown him up with a drone strike or a JSOC raid.
And pro-Obama liberals would have nodded solemnly, defending their guy by explaining what a difficult job it is leading the free world.